Say It

What does it mean to Say It Louder? For us, it’s raising your voice, speaking your truth, and being unapologetically yourself. This month, we’re putting the spotlight on two musicians who do just that. We could sing their praises nonstop, but we wanna hear from them! So listen up, and meet the artists who are making their mark, one song at a time.
I’m hoping that little kids around the world are able to see me and be like, ‘Oh, I wanna do that.’
  • “It’s really important to be excited for the future,” says rising pop star Hayley Kiyoko. “What I hope to inspire is for people to feel validated and to find their voice within themselves…I think that’s sometimes difficult because life is hard. Everyone’s going through their own struggle.”

  • For Hayley, that struggle has been finding her place in a not-so-accepting industry. “I’ve just always wanted to be myself and introduce that to the mainstream pop world. And unfortunately, myself being half-Japanese and loving girls is kind of a new discussion. And so I’m hoping that little kids around the world are able to see me and be like, ‘Oh, I wanna do that. She can do it, I can do it.’”

  • And Hayley’s proving she can do it. Her 2015 single, “Girls Like Girls,” became a breakout hit, one that suddenly brought her, and her sexual identity, into the spotlight. “People call me Lesbian Jesus,” she says of her dedicated following. “I don’t know why. I don’t know who started it, but you know, it’s the highest honor.”

  • While she’s become an inspiration to her fans, it was difficult for Hayley to reach that place of self-acceptance. “I spent a lot of time growing up comparing myself to other people, and I had a struggle with femininity and where I was on that spectrum. I realized that confidence is the most attractive thing, and if you have confidence, you could be wearing a paper bag and look sexy.”

  • Hayley recognizes this sort of confidence comes from within, especially when feeling the pressure to come out. “You’re really focused on, well, how am I gonna come out to other people, and who cares about other people? If you love yourself and you’ve built this foundation within yourself, no one’s words or feelings can affect or hurt you.” As for her advice to her younger self? “To go ask that girl out that I always wanted to. You know, I was a little timid, a little shy, missed some opportunities in life. So I would have told her to ‘Go get ’em, tiger.’”

  • With her new album, “Expectations,” Hayley continues to grow her voice and her audience. “What’s so wonderful about this journey is that I grew up without a community, not knowing people like me, and through my music, I’ve found thousands of people that connect and relate to my feelings and my experiences…it’s a really beautiful thing.”
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    I think the most important thing is just to be honest in your music and the way you express yourself.
  • Singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas first discovered her musical passion at age seven. “I just sang one day, and it was this sensation in my body that felt really nice, and I was like, ‘Oh!’ I didn’t know what it was. I didn’t know that it was called singing or that it was a thing, but I was just like, ‘That feels good, so I’m gonna carry on doing that.’”

  • Carry on she did and then some. With her 2012 debut album, “Is Your Love Big Enough,” the London-based artist earned positive acclaim for her mesmerizing vocals and inspired songwriting. She’s now recording her third studio album.

  • A great source of Lianne’s inspiration comes from the matriarchs in her family. “There are many women in my life that have influenced me and that have been, and still are, very important to me.” She also recognizes female singers, like Ella Fitzgerald. “I think someone once said if you wanted to know the real, true version of a song, you should listen to the Ella Fitzgerald version…She was always so elegant as well, with a great sense of humor, just so charming, everything I aspire to be.”

  • As for Lianne’s own personal style? “It’s really important to look like myself,” she admits. “I love dressing up, but if I don’t recognize myself after I’ve dressed up, then I’ve done something wrong, you know?…At the core of it, as long as I feel like it looks like me and looks like my personality, then I’ve done a good job."

  • This self-possession was something she had to cultivate as a performer. “I used to get really nervous singing in front of people. It would be like I was exposing myself or something, ’cause it’s part of your body…I think that’s something you have to work on. It does come naturally for a lot of people, but I definitely had to grow into that.”

  • When it comes to her legacy, Lianne wants to be remembered for the authenticity of her work. “I think the most important thing is just to be honest in your music and the way you express yourself,” she says. “Looking at artists that I love, they’re always just unapologetically themselves, so hopefully I can do that for people.”
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